The Breathtaking Natural Sights of ‘Eua
The island of ‘Eua is a world of its own. Tonga’s oldest island is incidentally home to Tonga’s oldest rainforest, now protected as the ‘Eua National Park, and has been carved by the ocean for millions of years to create an array of interesting coastal formations. Check out some of the sights and natural attractions in this guide to sightseeing on ‘Eua!
Plus, learn more about the island in the 20 Best Things to Do in ‘Eua and Where to Stay in ‘Eua: The Best ‘Eua Accommodations.
1. ‘Eua National Park
Tonga’s largest national park is the obvious go-to for nature and sightseeing on ‘Eua. Ways to experience the ‘Eua National Park are either by hiking or by taking a 4WD tour, the latter available through The Best Guided Tours in ‘Eua. While you’re visiting the park, look out for birds, like the iconic red shining parrot (koki) that was introduced to the island in prehistoric times. Learn more about Tonga’s iconic wildlife in the 10 Animals & Birds Found in Tonga.
Location: Sights are signposted from the main road in the villages of Mata’aho and Ha’atu’a. Access is down old logging roads toward the east coast of ‘Eua.
2. Big ‘Ovava Tree #2
There are, not one, but two “Big ‘Ovava Trees” on ‘Eua thought to be around 800 years old! Also described as an incredibly large banyan tree, Big ‘Ovava Tree #2 drapes hundreds of roots from above which delve deep down into a sinkhole below. Needless to say, you should watch your step as you explore this area. This ‘Ovava Tree is a popular stop on ‘Eua 4WD tours.
Location: Towards the east coast of ‘Eua. Follow signposts at the intersection from the main road in Kolomaile/Ha’atu’a villages. From the intersection, follow the road, which quickly turns into a dirt road, for approximately 1.6 km (1 mi) and then take the first road left. The ‘Ovava Tree is approximately 100 m (109 yards) down this track.
3. ‘Ana ‘Ahu (Smoking Cave)
An eerie sinkhole plunges deep (and no one seems to know how deep) into the abyss at this mystical natural attraction among the ‘Eua forest. After a short but steep (and slippery) descent down some concrete steps, you’ll step onto a wooden platform above ‘Ana ‘Ahu, also known as the “Smoking Cave” due to the light waterfall creating a surrounding mist. Again, this is a common sight seen on ‘Eua island tours.
Location: ‘Eua forest toward the east coast of the island. ‘Ana ‘Ahu is approximately 800 m (880 yards) from Big ‘Ovava Tree #2 (see above). From the ‘Ovava Tree, continue east on the main logging road for about 225 m (250 yards) then turn right, then take the first left in approximately 250 m (270 yards), then the trail to ‘Ana ‘Ahu starts in around another 250 m.
4. Lokupo Lookout, Lau’ua Lookout and Rats Cave
For those willing to explore a little further into the ‘Eua National Park, there are some amazing vantage points to find. The Lokupo and Lau’ua Lookouts are destinations on some of the guided tours available in the ‘Eua National Park, as is Rats Cave (‘Ana Kumā), named after the small tunnel to crawl through before a small hole opens up into the cliffside abyss below – not for the faint-hearted! Again, guided island tours are the easiest way to explore these attractions.
Location: ‘Eua National Park, east coast of ‘Eua. A guided tour of this area is highly recommended as not all of the appropriate turn-offs are signposted the entire way. Otherwise, follow signposts at the intersection from the main road in Kolomaile/Ha’atu’a villages (same as the ‘Ovava Tree). From the intersection, follow the logging road for approximately 3.3 km (2 mi) and turn right at the crossroads. In 400 m (440 yards) turn right, then left in another 300 m (330 yards). After approximately 500 m (550 yards), look out for remnants of signs on the right-hand side and walk the rest of the way. The Lau’ua Lookout is just less than 500 m south of the Lokupo Lookout on foot.
5. Lakufa’anga Cliffs and Rock Gardens
There are many features of natural beauty to admire in the south of the island, starting with the Lakufa’anga Cliffs and Rock Gardens. First, check out the rocky outcrops on the clifftops that make up the “Rock Gardens”, then look out over the Lakufa’anga Cliffs not only to be in awe of the dramatic cliff formations but to see an array of seabirds flying to and from their nesting grounds. You can either drive around this area following the well-established grass trails or walk following the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua.
Location: South coast of ‘Eua. Ask about island tours to the Rock Gardens with your accommodation or the Tourist Information Centre in ‘Ohonua (just up the road from the ferry terminal). Alternatively, this site is accessible via a high-clearance rental car (like a Nissan X-Trail). Take the main road all of the way south until you reach a gate that you’ll need to open (and close behind you). The road turns into well-established grass trails for vehicles to explore the area.
6. Lianga Huo ‘a Maui Landbridge
Continue east of Lakufa’anga Cliffs through the forest and you’ll come across the short walk (5-10 minutes one way) to Lianga Huo ‘a Maui. This gargantuan natural attraction is an archway or a “landbridge” carved into the southern cliffs of ‘Eua. A wooden platform gives you the perfect lookout to peer through the archway to the ocean beyond (although the platform had suffered some damage the last time we visited so watch your step).
Location: South coast of ‘Eua. From the Rock Gardens, follow the grass trail east through a short tract of forest to a parking area where a sign indicates a short walk to Lia’anga Huo ‘a Maui. Return the same way.
7. Ha’aluma Beach
‘Eua has a fair few beaches in between its rocky exterior of the island, one of the must-visits being Ha’aluma Beach. The bright white-sand beach sweeps across the southwest coast of the island, photo-worthy for its verdant vegetation backing the sand and patterns of coral and tidal pools in the shallows. Swimming is generally safe here but just be careful of the outgoing tide and look out for strong currents. For more beaches (and some that are easier to access), check out the 5 Best Beaches on ‘Eua.
Location: The Ha’aluma Beach access road is at the intersection just before the main road continues along the southwest stretch of the island toward the Lakufa’anga Cliffs and Rock Gardens. The beach is down a very steep sandy-coloured dirt road. The road is approximately 645 m (700 yards), so is doable and safer on foot.
8. Hafu Pool and Big ‘Ovava Tree #1
You didn’t think we’d forget about ‘Ovava Tree #1, did you?! First, you need to make your way to Hafu Pool, which is a series of refreshing freshwater pools among the forest. There are two small concrete dams to keep the water at prime dipping level but not too deep. Across the pool is a well-established trail to the “Big ‘Ovava Tree #1“. Cross the longer of the concrete dams and follow the trail for 5-10 minutes. At the fork, turn left and then left again to find the sign for the “Big ‘Ovava Tree #1”. Be mindful of your step, however, as the tree plunges deep into the caves below. There is another sight in this area, Heke Slide, but it is harder to find so requires a guide to get there.
Location: Signposted between Mata’aho and ‘Esia villages down a narrow 1.8 km (1.1 mi) dirt road. A high-clearance vehicle is advised.
9. Fangatave Beach and Cliffs
On the northeastern side of the island are some incredible limestone cliffs backing Fangatave Beach. Not only is this a hotspot for rock climbing for those with their own gear, but there is a whole scattering of limestone caves to explore as you make your way down to the beach. Guides are available at many of the accommodations on ‘Eua, such as ‘Alakoka Tahi Moana Guest House, to take you to this amazing spot.
Location: Signposted along the dirt road heading east at the northern end of Houma village, northeast coast of ‘Eua. A guide is highly recommended.
10. Cathedral Cave
Update: There are no longer any scuba diving operators in ‘Eua offering trips to Cathedral Cave. See the link below for more about scuba diving in Tonga.
This natural attraction can only be admired by certified scuba divers. Cathedral Cave is a huge underwater sea cave that measures 100 m (330 ft) long, 50 m (165 ft) wide and 30 m (100 ft) deep. The marine life here itself is reason enough to check out his amazing dive site. Learn more about how to get there in The Guide to Scuba Diving in Tonga.
More Natural Attractions and Sightseeing on ‘Eua
That’s it for our guide to sightseeing on ‘Eua, including the best sights and natural attractions. That’s by no means the end of the amazing attractions that the island has to offer, so check out our other guides to discover more: